A state of emergency for children
Protection leaders ask your help
Reports of child abuse have plummeted, even as family stress factors like job insecurity, food insecurity, and sickness have disproportionally increased in March and April. The heads of the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance, Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) and Children’s League of Massachusetts are issuing an unprecedented joint call for your help.
Mandated reporters for child abuse including teachers, medical providers, therapists, and clergy are not having in-person interaction with children during the state of emergency.
While educators are interacting with students, at most, through video exchange, those organizations are urging anyone having contact with children to look for these signs of distress:
- Physical appearance: signs of bruises, marks, injuries, hygiene, or attire
- Environment: signs of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, or family dysfunction
- Behavior and affect: change in mood or presentation, distress, or outcries of abuse
- Engagement: changes in participation, interaction, and communication
- Supervision: access to a responsible adult and their level of involvement.
A report does not automatically trigger a child being removed from a home or a parent being in trouble; few reports result in either of those outcomes. The most common outcome is supplying services and supports to families that need them. Massachusetts has a comprehensive, trauma-informed system of response to child abuse allegations through the state’s twelve Children’s Advocacy Centers. DCF has a staff of well-trained, well-supervised, and dedicated social workers who screen reports to see what – if any – intervention or support services a child and family might need.
For more information about recognizing and responding to child abuse, Victim Services, or to provide feedback, please visit our respective web sites below.
- Thomas King, Executive Director, Massachusetts Children’s Alliance
- Liam Lowney, Executive Director, Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-office-for-victim-assistance
- Tammy Mello, Executive Director, Children’s League of Massachusetts https://www.childrensleague.org/